Statins Raise Glucose Levels, Study Reveals
A UK online news outlet recently revealed yet another reason to stay off statin drugs: In a recent Finnish study, patients taking statins had higher blood glucose levels as well as higher rates of type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Nina Rautio of Pirkanmaa Hospital in Tampere, Finland, and lead author of the research, selected a group of almost 3,000 patients who were deemed high-risk for developing diabetes. Of that group, the researchers analyzed data from each, including fasting glucose, triglycerides, and a set of parameters that deems type 2 diabetes risk. The study revealed that the stain users showed a slight increase in fasting blood glucose levels (0.08 mmol/l). Triglycerides were also found to have decreased at a slower rate than non-statin drug using patients. The development of type 2 diabetes was 1% higher in patients taking statin drugs than those who did not take the cholesterol lowering medication.
A Call for Intense Lifestyle Intervention
Dr. Rautio stated that the results should not be used to discourage statin use, but may be used with more intense lifestyle changes in those with a higher risk for diabetes.
"Healthcare professionals should take time, especially in statin users, to change their lifestyle to a healthier direction—that is, healthy diet, nonsmoking, and physical activity. Type 2 diabetes has been shown to be preventable in people at very high risk by changing lifestyles. If a patient is worried about the potential harmful effects of statin treatment, they should consult a doctor about this matter and not stop treatment on their own."
Dr. Roger Blumenthal, lipid expert from Johns Hopkins University, did concede that those with many signs of metabolic syndrome could be at greatest risk of complications of statin use. He said:
"The message for clinicians is that patients who have multiple components of the metabolic syndrome need to try to further improve their lifestyle habits to combat the possible rise in glucose when a statin is begun. This paper suggests that statins may have unfavorable effects on glucose metabolism in certain people, so compliance with lifestyle improvements will be very important. We look forward to more prospective studies on this topic."